Wednesday, August 06, 2014
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, July 21, 2014, Mahalia Jackson Theater, New Orleans, LA (Show Review + Bonus Travelogue)
The city of New Orleans and I have had a difficult relationship, to say the least. I'm not sure when it started. Maybe it was the wrong turn during a grade-school field trip that saw my class walking down a street of sexual grotesqueries. Actually, pretty much every one of my bad New Orleans stories involves getting lost and witnessing sexual grotesqueries.
You do not want to get lost in New Orleans.
Not literally, not metaphorically, not metaphysically(which would certainly involve you using some of the copious amounts of drugs available in the city of New Orleans). Even if you are careful, you are surely going to step in something. This is a town where wild animals and sometimes humans roam the streets, defecating where they please. This is New Orleans.
Anyway, the relationship between myself and New Orleans is difficult, but for some reason, half of the bridal party from my wedding now lives there, as well as several people who might as well have been. They all love it for some reason, and it has an aquarium and insectarium my kid loves, and bands I like spurn Baton Rouge for there, so I am pretty much stuck with a lifetime of heading down I-10 East to its soggiest destination.
I had a triple excuse, this time.
1. Meet up with my cousin for a trip to Canal Place Theater--essentially a restaurant that shows movies--to see the new Planet of the Apes film.
2. a.Head to my buddy Jon's new bar. b.Get some food.
3. Go see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Mahalia Jackson theater.
ONE I left for New Orleans shortly before noon and immediately noticed a strange smell. I was still nearly 90 miles from New Orleans, and though it has a unique dumpster-like stench, I was pretty sure I was still out of its range. I remembered getting stuck in the rain a few days before, making awesome Macgyveresque boots for my feet out of plastic bags, and the floor of my car getting really, really wet. That's a different story, though, and the only important bit is that water got in my car and made it stinky, and I then I stopped at Wal-Mart and got some store-brand Lysol, and it sucked, and never buy it. Sorry, that tangent was useless, except I wanted to mention that Great Value Lysol blows because I want to see if someone reaches this post through Google by searching for the term "Great Value Lysol blows." That would be neat. Anyway, I met up with my cousin at Canal Place and ordered a Parmesan and Pepper Popcorn and some almond soda because I really, really, really wanted the people who get paid $7.50 to wait on arrogant movie patrons who are constantly yelling "down in front" at them to think I was an enormous douche. A byproduct of this was that the Parmesan and Pepper Popcorn was delicious, and after I finished it, I put the Popcorn Tub to my lips like a cup and drank out all the excess cheese crumbs, then murdered everyone else in the theater so there would be no witnesses. On that note, why does everyone make a really shocked face when I say that a pretty girl sleeps in the same bed as me? Also, the almond soda put me into the classic existential "am I progressing/regressing" crisis of "do I like soda better than beer?" The movie was quite good for a summer blockbuster, but that's for another post.
TWO A My cousin decided to tag-along to the bar, as the bartender is a mutual friend. I'm glad he did because otherwise, I was going to have to walk, and the bar is on the other side of the overpass, and if there is one thing you should NEVER, EVER do in New Orleans, it is walk beneath an overpass. We arrived at the bar, and I can't remember the name of it, and Jon, I'm sorry. Anyway, if you end up in a bar in New Orleans on Magazine St with a wildebeest mounted on the wall, that's probably it. I mean, there might be another bar on Magazine St with a Wildebeest on the wall, but if that's the case, New Orleans and wildebeests really need to work out their issues because not cool, guys (EDITOR'S NOTE: The bar is called Barrel-Proof). Anyway, knowing I was about to have to deal with a multitude of "hip" New Orleanians, I ordered a couple of drinks. Both were beers from some brewery in Michigan, but both were also pushing 20-proof, so good job guys, I can't remember the name of your brewery. Whatever you're called, your Dark Porter is excellent, and your Scotch Ale is even better.
Now, I was nearly prepared to deal with whatever mass of humanity awaited between me and Mahalia Jackson Theater. The only thing left to do was eat eat eat. Crap, I was hoping if I Beetlejuiced that, some food would pop-up in my face. Life's not fair. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, I had to get my car from Canal Place to Mahalia Jackson. Getting your car from one place to another in New Orleans is like opening a box of Lucky Charms full of nothing but four-leaf clover marshmallows. Good luck. Anyway, as per usual, I got lost, and had to roll down my window and holler at complete strangers until someone made the nonsensical decision to approach me. A young married-ish couple gave me directions and also gave me a premium parking pass to the Mahalia Jackson theater, as they were headed to the Nick Cave show, too, bought their tickets on Stubhub, and ended up also receiving a parking pass they didn't need. The thought to then offer them a ride never once occurred to me until the girl who sleeps in my bed asked me the next morning, "Did you offer them a ride?" I did not answer her with the response "Did I remember Mother's Day this year?" though that would have been the most logical reminder of how thoughtful and not self-centered I am. If you are slow to pick up my meaning and my writing is obtuse to you: I did not remember Mother's Day this year.
TWO B Anyway, I parked right at the door, and wandered around the block. The only sign of food I saw was a door with a hot dog on it. I really didn't want a hot dog, but I also really didn't want to have to strain to hear Nick Cave above the hellacious sounds of my stomach cursing me out in Stomachese, a primitive, repulsive language, much like German. So, I entered into the hotdog door establishment that I just imagined was called Noladogs for some reason, and referred to it as such for the rest of the night. When I dug through my pockets the next day, I found a punch card that said DREAMY WEENIES on it, so unless I somehow went to two hotdog places that night, this next part of the story happened at Dreamy Weenies. Anyway, Dreamy Weenies offers a hotdog with chili AND grits on it, so I ordered that, and I also ordered a corn dog because corn dogs. The counter-girl looked surprised, though she was quite nice. Actually, the staff there were all as cute as puppies. I don't mean, like cute "attractive," not that they weren't attractive, but cute like puppies that want your love and attention, and are attempting to receive it by selling you hot dogs. Also, there were these weird old people wearing skin-tight leather costumes waiting for their food, and one of them, lady, went into the bathroom to do coke because she still had some on her nose when she came out, and I knew she was going to the show and I knew I was in New Orleans. My only cocaine for the moment was my massive, hot dog-based meal.
The reason the counter girl looked surprised was not because I got her a new chew toy, but because the hot dog and corn dog together would not fit in the average-sized New Orleans apartment. However, I was hungry, and my first cousin is the seventh-ranked eater in the world, and I have, like, a bunch of his genes or something and stuff. The delicious house made corn dog and chili-grits dog disappeared, literally, beneath my very eyes, because my mouth is beneath my eyes. The cook actually came out to shake my hand afterward, because he was shocked that someone actually ordered both those items and consumed them in one sitting. Then I tossed a ball toward the wall, he chased after it with his little tail wagging, and I left. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I WENT TO A HOT DOG PLACE AND MADE A BUNCH OF METAPHORS THAT COMPARED THE EMPLOYEES WITH ACTUAL DOGS. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I LACK SO MUCH CONFIDENCE IN MY HUMOR-SKILLS THAT I HAVE TO ASK YOU IF YOU EVEN NOTICED THAT I WAS MAKING A JOKE. IT'S THAT LOW. Seriously, I hate when people say, "See what I did there?" If I didn't get it, you did a bad job, and if I did get it, you just ruined it by pointing it out. Stop saying stupid stuff! LOOK AT THESE HOT-DOG BASED ENTREES!
THREE I walked back to the Mahalia Jackson theater at probably about the same time the people who gave me the premium parking pass did. Sorry, guys. I missed the opening act, and I don't remember what her name was, so sorry to you, too, opening act girl. I sat next to two really white looking dudes near the middle of the theater (in my assigned seat), and unfortunately, I stayed in that position for most of the night because here comes the let down: the patrons of the Mahalia Jackson theater absolutely suck.
Allow me to explain (the only other option is to quit reading):
Nick Cave and his heavily bearded band of strange old geezers took the stage in near darkness to the loud vibrations of a humming drone. Cave broke into "We Real Cool," from his most recent release, Push the Sky Away. The crowd came to their feet and applauded. Then the song ended. At that point everyone not in the front section or on the stage sat. Why? You paid to watch a crazy shaman man dance around and sing apocalyptic songs, and you are going to sit on your butt while he sweats his off? Why not just stay home and watch the show on YouTube(tm) while you lay in your bed putting on another five while you eat bonbons? A group of people directly in front of me did not sit. I did not want to sit either (obviously, I've made that clear), and if I would have, I'd have seen nothing but the people in front of me's posteriors. The lazy asses behind me, however, thought so incredibly highly of themselves and their privilege that after an obnoxious barrage of "hey, down in front," they began to pelt me with ice. The person next to me turned around and attempted to explain that if my row sat down, none of us would be able to see. At that exact instant, a large piece of ice bounced off my neck and stuck in my shirt collar. I immediately turned around, found the person who threw the ice, sat down with them, politely discussed the issue, and, after a long talk about all of the baggage our parents gave us, collapsed with them into one enormous cry hug.
I'd love to say that I did that, but in reality, I grabbed the ice, threw it back in the direction it came from as hard as I could, said a few choice words about what whoever threw the ice could do, then used both hands to make a popular gesture, holding high certain fingers for the duration of the song, then continued to stand until every single person in my vicinity finally gave in and sat down, as whatever buzz of goodwill toward all of my fellow men, as well as my burgeoning positive feelings for the city of New Orleans, simultaneously evaporated. Yes, that was one sentence. Deal with it, sister...or brother...or whatever you are.
This also left me upset with myself, which in turn made me more angry with the city of New Orleans for bringing out the worst in me. I spent the next 45-minutes brooding and decided that, as I so rarely get to go to shows now, I will shell out whatever the extra cost to sit up front with actual fans of the band I am seeing, and not with the weird, steely-eyed crew I was stuck with, who never smiled, moved, or sang along to a word. They were essentially robots who were only programmed to sit. Thinking about it at this exact moment has completely fouled my sense of humor.
I then decided to at least try to enjoy the final hour of the show (Cave played for two). While the band wasn't exactly what one would call tight, Cave more than lived up to his bill, as a natural entertainer who still shimmies around the stage like a man half his age. Cave's bizarre fixation with a guy holding up a plastic cup was also a show highlight, starting with continuous shout-outs to "Plastic Cup Man," which eventually evolved into the dude being inserted into the narrative of the band's most well-known song, "Red Right Hand," metamorphosing Plastic Cup Man into a near mythological creature. Cave then cooled it on Plastic Cup Man references until the show's final minutes, whereupon he made one final triumphant mention which sent the crowd members who cared into a frenzy. Indeed, it was Cave's showmanship, along with the enthusiasm of those in the front section that saved the show for me. Also, after four decades of recording, Cave has quite a back catalog to choose from, and rather than hovering over only new material, Cave's setlist plucked songs from ten different albums.
Cave ended the show with an excellent four-song encore, and when the band began to play set-closer, "The Lyre of Orpheus," I decided to get on my feet again, regardless of whatever ice barrage awaited me. It was worth it, as my enjoyment was, at the least, tripled, and I left the show on the high I was hoping for. But this is still a travelogue, so here's a bonus epilogue because my night was not over.
BONUS EPILOGUE I knew the moment I sat in my car that if I did not get ice cream soon, I would certainly die on the two-hour drive home. I took the Interstate exit onto the dystopian Veterans Boulevard, spotted a McDonald's, decided the night would be a failure if it ended with me eating ice cream from McDonald's, and continued on through several of Veterans' approximately 60,000 red lights. I was just about to give up hope, but then New Orleans partially redeemed itself, offering me access to a 24-hour Baskin Robbins. Oreo Cake Batter ice cream got me part of the way home, and then I ended up in my bed somehow, and it was all over THE END.